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Koh Butang Group

The Butangs is a group of islands approximately 27 miles to the northwest of Langkawi and 95 miles southeast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea.

There are 15 or so granite islands including Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, Koh Butang, Koh Sawang, Koh Kata, Koh Bulu and Koh Bitsi. They are cloaked with lush rainforest and fringed with coral reef and white sand beaches. The islands provide exceptionally good snorkelling and diving on well-preserved coral. They are within the Tarutao National Marine Park, which consists of a total of 51 islands.

Koh Butang Group

The smaller southern island Koh Lipe is the most important and now hosts numerous resorts. With groundwater available year-round it is the largest permanent settlement. The native community is a mix of Chao Lay, Muslim and Buddhist and the population has grown rapidly since regular ferry services were established from Satun, Pak Bara and Langkawi.

The small town has ATM machines but no bank branch. The Chao Lay or Urak Lawoi, more commonly known as sea gypsies, used to lead a nomadic lifestyle travelling from place to place but the community on Koh Lipe has been settled for decades.

These islands provide many quiet secluded anchorages. The water is deep, with the sea bed rising rapidly to 20 metres. Anchorages can only be found on sandy shelves between 10 and 20 metres close to the fringing reef and rocks. Closer in the reef rises rapidly to the surface. The National Park authorities are strict with vessels found anchoring on the reef. Overnighting on mooring buoys is risky and the tackle should be checked.

Daily ferries service Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Lipe, which offer basic accommodation. Koh Lipe houses a full CIQ facility with customs and immigration, but no Harbour Department.

Customs & Immigration on Pattaya Beach, south Lipe - Photo by Grenville Fordham
Customs & Immigration on Pattaya Beach, south Lipe – Photo by Grenville Fordham
  • A

KOH ADANG WEST

56 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH ADANG WEST. 6° 32.600N, 99°16.550E

Anchorage can be found in 16 metres off the white sand beach east of Koh Barat. This spot is suitable during both seasons, although it is exposed to ground swells. Alternatively, around Koh Barat some shallower spots in about 8 metres offer moorings or good holding in suitable conditions. Otherwise, the water depth is generally 20 metres or more, but relatively calm within the entire harbour.

  • B

KOH LIPE SOUTH

62 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH LIPE SOUTH. 6° 29.060N, 99° 18.126E

Anchor in 15 metres (certainly no less than 10) off the fast-rising fringe reef on a sandy bottom. Pattaya Beach ashore has a number of resort and bungalow developments.

The best beach dinghy landing areas are in the east of the bay, where there is a small sandy channel through the coral, and alongside the floating jetty at the entrance to ‘Walking Street’. There is no access, though, at low tide.

Approaching from the west, there are some exposed rocks at low tide. Avoid anchoring too close to ferry buoys, which have now spread westwards, leaving increasingly less room for yachts.

  • C
  • D

KOH LIPE NORTH

59 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH LIPE NORTH (C). 6° 29.559N, 99° 17.838E

These anchorages, one located opposite a Thai fishing station and a large sea gypsy village, the other to the east near the islets offer reasonable overnight anchorage.

Anchorage (C) is among moorings in 12-15 metres on a muddy bottom. There are restaurants, limited fuel, water and a fisheries museum ashore at the National Park HQ. Anchorage (D) [6°29.725N, 99° 18.765E], just west of Hin Takon Dukang, is better in the southwest season in 8-10 metres. Anchorage is also available on the east coast off Sunrise Beach between the two islands to the east of Koh Lipe in 15-20 metres.

To the north, across the channel, on the southern tip of Koh Adang is another gypsy village with a jetty in a sandy lagoon, which can be accessed by dinghy.

  • E

KOH BUTANG NORTH

56 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH BUTANG NORTH. 6° 32.409N, 99° 9.770E

Anchor west off the small islands in 8-12 metres with enough swinging room to avoid the fringing reef. This area is ideal for snorkelling and fishing and wild monkeys can be seen on the beach. Anchorage and moorings can also be found in 20 metres east of the islets, if the northeast ground swell wraps around the south of Koh Rawi.

Day anchorage and moorings can also be found around the islets of Koh Palai and Koh Sawang to the south of Koh Butang. This is generally considered the best snorkelling, diving and fishing in the group. The bottom rises sharply from depths of more than 25 metres around these southern islands and any day anchorage should be approached with caution.

  • F

KOH RAWI SOUTHWEST

57 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH RAWI SOUTHWEST. 6° 32.511N, 99° 11.408E

Anchor in 5-10 metres on the sandy shelf east of the protruding reef bank opposite the beach or pick up a mooring. Keep well clear of the extending reef to the east on approach. The current is strong in this passage and care should be taken when snorkelling.

The National Park HQ is located to the east. Anchorage can be found near the HQ in 5-8 metres or further off in deeper water. Ashore there is a freshwater creek and a 45-minute jungle trail leading to a year-round waterfall.

Near the beach is a black pipe where jerry cans can be filled with fresh water. There is another pleasant hike across the isthmus to a beautiful beach on the north side. Day anchorage and snorkelling can also be found in the middle of this bay in 10-14 metres.

  • G
  • H

KOH BITSI WEST AND EAST

57 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse

KOH BITSI (G) 6°33.872N, 99°20.533E. (H) 6°51.131N, 99°20.996E

Northeast of Koh Adang is a small island with good holding close to shore on either the east or west coast depending on the season and ground swell. Good snorkelling and diving.

Day trippers on the southeastern end of Koh Rawi - Photo by Grenville Fordham
Day trippers on the southeastern end of Koh Rawi – Photo by Grenville Fordham

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While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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